Few things make people sit up and notice as they do when a celebrity speaks out. News outlets across Milwaukee and the nation recently paid strict attention when singer Taylor Swift penned a letter to her senator in support of the Equality Act. The measure just passed in the U.S. House of Representatives would amend Title VII by adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of prohibited forms of discrimination in the workplace and housing, among other things.
It is not certain that the measure will gain approval in the Senate or that it would be signed into law by the president, but if it does become law, it would be a giant step for the LGBTQ community nationally. However, it should be pointed out that in many ways, the nation would just be catching up to Wisconsin with passage of the Equality Act. Our state banned workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation more than three decades ago.
The state’s Department of Workforce Development says on its website that “the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act prohibits employers, employment agencies, labor unions, licensing agencies, and other persons from discriminating against employees, job applicants, or licensing applicants because of their membership in specific protected categories, including sexual orientation.”
The Equality Act includes protections for transgender individuals as well, though Milwaukee is one of several Wisconsin cities that already includes gender-identity rights in employment law. Madison, Appleton and a couple of others do as well.
While the Equality Act would strengthen employment law in most of the U.S., it would not make an enormous practical difference here in Milwaukee. We are already proud to embrace the LGBTQ community as equal citizens with full rights and protections.
The employment law office of Alan C. Olson and Associates is ready to help you protect your rights against unlawful discrimination in the workplace.